8th Avenue in Brooklyn Chinatown
Brooklyn Chinatown (simplified Chinese: 布鲁克林華埠; traditional Chinese: 布魯克林華埠; pinyin: bùlǔkèlín huábù), in the Sunset Park area of the New York City borough of Brooklyn, on Long Island, New York, in the United States, is one of the largest and fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside of Asia, as well as within New York City itself. Because this Chinatown is rapidly evolving into an enclave predominantly of immigrants from Fujian Province in Mainland China, it is now increasingly common to refer to it as the Little Fuzhou (小福州) of the Western Hemisphere.
However, Brooklyn's Chinese population continues to grow and expand highly rapidly, and the borough has since evolved at least three Chinatowns, between Sunset Park, Bensonhurst and Sheepshead Bay.
- 1 Early history
- 2 Fuzhouese population
- 3 Connection to Manhattan's Chinatown
- 4 Cantonese population
- 5 Size
- 6 Satellite Chinatowns
- 7 See also
- 8 References
In the earlier part of the 20th century, 8th Avenue in Sunset Park was primarily home to Norwegian immigrants, and it was known as "Little Norway", or Lapskaus Boulevard as the Norwegians termed it. Later on, as Norwegians left, the neighborhood increasingly became abandoned by the 1950s.
In 1986, the first Chinese-American grocery store, Winley Supermarket, was opened on the corner of 8th Avenue and 56th Street by three Chinese immigrants. Selling both Asian and American products, this unprecedented supermarket served the indigenous, predominantly white residents of the area and attracted Chinese immigrants from all areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan's Chinatown (唐人街, 紐約華埠).
By 1988, 90% of the original storefronts on Eighth Avenue in Sunset Park were abandoned, but Winley Supermarket prevailed and continued to draw in more Asian visitors. Chinese immigrants then moved into this area - not only new arrivals from China, but also residents of the Manhattan Chinatown in New York City's Manhattan borough, seeking refuge from high rents, who fled to the cheap property costs and rents of Sunset Park and formed the Brooklyn Chinatown.
This relatively new but rapidly growing Chinatown located in Sunset Park was originally settled by Cantonese immigrants like Manhattan's Chinatown. In the past, it had the highest Cantonese population in Brooklyn and resembled strongly of Mott Street (Manhattan's original Chinatown) the entrenched Cantonese community that strongly continues to exist in the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown. In the 1980s and 1990s, Fuzhou immigrants established a newer portion of Manhattan's Chinatown on East Broadway and Eldridge Street. Another influx of Fuzhou immigrants poured into Brooklyn's Chinatown in the 2000s and supplanted the Cantonese at a significantly higher rate than in Manhattan's Chinatown. Brooklyn's Chinatown is now home to mostly Fuzhou immigrants.
In the past, during the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of newly arriving Fuzhou immigrants were settling within Manhattan's Chinatown, and the first Little Fuzhou community emerged in New York City within Manhattan's Chinatown; by the 2000s, however, the center of the massive Fuzhou influx had shifted to Brooklyn's Chinatown, which is now home to the fastest growing and perhaps largest Fuzhou population in New York City. Unlike the Little Fuzhou within Manhattan's Chinatown, which further developed the newer portion of Manhattan's Chinatown rather than settling in the center of the Cantonese community of Manhattan's Chinatown and still remains surrounded by areas which continue to house significant populations of Cantonese, all of Brooklyn's Chinatown is swiftly consolidating into New York City's new Little Fuzhou and is beginning to resemble more and more of The New Chinatown of Manhattan, which is the newer portion of Manhattan's Chinatown established by the Fuzhou immigrants primarily concentrated on the East Broadway and Eldridge Street portion. The quickly increasing Fuzhou population has caused the property values to double and the Fuzhou immigrants buying properties in this area are very likely to pay a higher price to buy the property they see and desire. However, a growing community of Wenzhounese immigrants from China's Zhejiang Province is now also arriving in Brooklyn Chinatown. Also in contrast to Manhattan's Chinatown, which still successfully continues to carry a large Cantonese population and retain the large Cantonese community established decades ago in the western section of Manhattan's Chinatown, where Cantonese residents have a communal gathering venue to shop, work, and socialize, Brooklyn's Chinatown is now very quickly losing its Cantonese community identity.
Shift of Fuzhou influx
Gentrification in Manhattan's Chinatown has pushed back the growth of Fuzhou immigrants and growth of Chinese immigrants in general, which is why the growing Chinese population in NYC is now primarily centered in Queens and Brooklyn, especially resulting in shifting the primary American destination for arriving Fuzhou immigrants from Manhattan's Chinatown to Brooklyn's Chinatown. The Chinese landlords, especially many of them are real estate agencies in Manhattan's Chinatown are still mainly Cantonese descents and many of them show prejudice not wanting to rent to the Fuzhou immigrants and simply not wanting to deal with them because of concerns that they are very loud, the fear that they will not be able to pay rent since many Fuzhou immigrants are known to be under a lot debt to gangs that helped smuggled them in illegally into the United States, the fear that gangs will come up to the apartments to cause trouble, and  being that they are likely to make the apartments too overcrowded such as subdividing apartments into very tiny spaces to rent to other Fuzhou immigrants, which is possibly another factor of slowing the growth of Fuzhou immigrants in Manhattan's Chinatown. East Broadway, which is the center of Fuzhou culture has the most shocking results of apartment subdivisions into many tiny spaces including so many bunk beds in just one tiny space.
With the rapidly growing influx of Fuzhou homeownership in Brooklyn's Chinatown and like many other Chinese immigrants and other ethnic immigrants in general who have become successful homeowners, the Fuzhou homeowners subdivide single-family houses into multiple apartments to rent to tenants. This has opened opportunities as well as led to the Brooklyn Chinatown becoming the new nexus for new arriving Fuzhou immigrants to New York City, to seek landlords of Fuzhou descent and to be able rent an apartment at a lower price in better conditions than in Manhattan's Chinatown with less housing discrimination and barriers imposed on them, in contrast to Cantonese landlords that are more likely to discriminate against Fuzhou immigrants and not wanting them to be tenants in their properties, however there are Fuzhou landlords that can sometimes still discriminate Fuzhou tenants by imposing high rent prices. Many Fuzhou immigrants in Brooklyn's Chinatown have also illegally subdivided apartments into small spaces to rent to other Fuzhou immigrants.
Connection to Manhattan's Chinatown
Since the 1980s, the neighborhood has attracted many Mainland Chinese immigrants, along 8th Avenue from 42nd to 68th Street. Some claim the reason the Chinese settled on 8th Avenue is because in Chinese folklore, the number eight is lucky for financial matters, and "8th Avenue" can be loosely interpreted as "road to wealth". Another explanation is the direct subway ride to Manhattan's Chinatown on the BMT Fourth Avenue Line and BMT West End Line (D N R) services.
In Chinese translation, 8th Avenue is called, 八大道. The Cantonese pronunciation for 8th Avenue sounds out to Bot Dai Do.
This Chinatown is also expanding robustly as Chinese businesses are also appearing on parts of 7th Avenue, and east on 9th Avenue. Recently in the community, the issues of overcrowding and more efficient sanitation have been raised.
This Chinatown is very well known to be an extension of the original Chinatown in Manhattan. However, that is changing because of the swiftly increasing concentration of the Fuzhou population and the declining Cantonese population; it can very easily be witnessed by the Chinese speaking population that it is increasingly becoming more specifically an extension of the Little Fuzhou on the East Broadway and Eldridge street portion of Manhattan's Chinatown and becoming less of an extension of Manhattan's Chinatown as a whole.
Brooklyn's Chinatown is now very quickly becoming the New Little Fuzhou (小福州) or Brooklyn's East Broadway (布鲁克林区的東百老匯), now quickly resembling East Broadway as the main gathering center for Fuzhou residents in Manhattan's Chinatown; or rather becoming Fuzhou Town (福州埠) because it has likely surpassed the one within Manhattan's Chinatown as the largest Fuzhou community in NYC. The Fuzhou population is also spreading into 7th and 9th Avenues and north onto 50th-42nd streets; this segment is also where most of the Fuzhou businesses are concentrated along 8th Avenue as well as on 7th avenue, causing the overall Chinese community to expand even further. Even though the Chinese community is quickly consolidating into a Fuzhou community and there are fewer Cantonese residents residing there, there are still many Cantonese people living in ethnically integrated areas near the Chinese community and still many Cantonese shops between 50th-62nd streets on 8th Avenue; however, the Cantonese presence is definitively giving way to an emerging Fuzhou community, albeit that many Cantonese still come from other parts of Brooklyn and elsewhere to shop on weekends.
According to a Daily News article, Brooklyn's Chinatown has surpassed the size of Manhattan's Chinatown and now ranks #1 as the largest Chinatown in NYC with 34,218 Chinese residents, up from 19,963 in 2000, a 71% increase. The Flushing Chinatown (法拉盛華埠) ranks #2 as NYC's largest Chinese community with 33,526 Chinese, up from 17,363, a 93% increase. As with Manhattan's Chinatown, Chinese population has declined by 17%, from 34,554 to 28,681 since 2000.
Since Brooklyn's Chinatown emergence on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park, the Chinese population has over the years expanded further into Brooklyn's Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and Gravesend neighborhoods. Homecrest Community Services, which serves Brooklyn's Chinese population, opened in Sheepshead Bay in the area of Brooklyn's second Chinatown in Homecrest and opened a smaller office in Brooklyn's third new emerging Chinatown in Bensonhurst. This emerging massive Chinese presence in Brooklyn has poured especially into Sheepshead Bay, Homecrest, and Bensonhurst, due to the overcrowding and rising property values in the original Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park.
Current Cantonese settlements
As the Cantonese dissipate from the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park, the Avenue U Chinatown and the third emerging Chinatown of Brooklyn in Bensonhurst now carry the majority of the established Cantonese population in Brooklyn along with new and growing Chinese immigrant population. The second Chinatown and third emerging Chinatown of Brooklyn, along with other emerging clusters of Chinese businesses and people in other parts of Bensonhurst particularly on 18th Avenue and Bay Parkway around the Nsubway services, could possibly in the future become the new gathering centers and central business districts for the Cantonese residents in Brooklyn, resembling the western portion of Manhattan's Chinatown in the same way that the main Brooklyn Chinatown in Sunset Park is quickly becoming a gathering center and central business district for the Fuzhou residents in Brooklyn, resembling East Broadway in Manhattan's Chinatown.
Chinatown, Avenue U (唐人街, U大道)
Avenue U in Homecrest now supports southern Brooklyn's second Chinatown (唐人街, U大道), as evidenced by the rapidly growing number of Chinese food markets, bakeries, restaurants, beauty and nail salons, and computer and consumer electronics dealers between Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Avenue. The Q train directly connects Canal Street in the Manhattan Chinatown to Brooklyn's Avenue U Chinatown. This Chinatown is actually a second extension of Manhattan's Chinatown, after the original Brooklyn Chinatown which had developed in Sunset Park. Within a sixteen year period, the Chinese population multiplied by an estimated fourteen fold in the Avenue U Chinatown, which is now in expansion mode. The increasing property values and congestion in Brooklyn's first established Chinatown on 8th Avenue in Sunset Park led to the still increasing Chinese population in Brooklyn pouring into the Sheepshead Bay and Homecrest sections, which in the late 1990s resulted in the establishment of a second Chinatown on Avenue U between the Homecrest and Sheepshead Bay sections.
Nearby in southern Brooklyn in Bensonhurst, below the elevated D train structure along on 86th Street between 18th Avenue and Stillwell Avenue, has now emerged a third Chinatown in Brooklyn. Within recent years, most new businesses opening within this portion of Bensonhurst's 86th Street, especially between Bay Parkway and 25th Avenue, have been Chinese. The D train is directly connected from the Grand Street station in Manhattan's Chinatown to this rapidly growing Chinese enclave between 18th Avenue and 25th Avenue, and it is becoming a third extension of Manhattan's Chinatown. It is also in some way becoming a second extension of Brooklyn's 8th Avenue Chinatown, since transfers between D and N trains are easy. On 86th Street, it is home to growing Chinese restaurants including the 86 Wong Chinese Restaurant, which is one of the earliest Chinese restaurants and businesses to be established on this street. Chinese grocery stores, salons, bakeries, and other types of Chinese businesses are also expanding swiftly on this street. There is still currently a mixture of different ethnic businesses and people, especially with many Italians and Russians still in the Bensonhurst neighborhood. However, with the highly rapid rate of growth of Chinese businesses and people on this street, the proportion of the Chinese population is increasing; and this Chinatown may rival or surpass the size of the Avenue U Chinatown. With the migration of the Cantonese as well as Fuzhou people in Brooklyn now to Bensonhurst, and along with new Chinese immigration, other small clusters of Chinese people and businesses have grown in other parts of Bensonhurst like 18th Avenue and Bay Parkway as well integrating with other ethnic groups and businesses. It is possible that several small Chinatowns might form as the Chinese population and number of Chinese businesses continue to grow in various sections of Bensonhurst, as it can be witnessed.
According to the Daily News, Brooklyn's Asian population, mainly Chinese, has grown tremendously not only in the Sunset Park area, but also in Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Borough Park. In Bensonhurst alone, from 2000 to 2010, the Asian population increased by 57%. The study also shows that Asians very often live in houses that are divided into studio apartments, which means there is a possibility that the increased Asian population could be more than what the census represents and causing stressors on the growing Asian population in Brooklyn.
Chinese translation terms Bensonhurst as 本生浒, 86th street as 八十六街, and 18th Avenue as 十八道.
- Chinese Americans in New York City
- Other Chinatowns in NYC:
- Chinatown bus lines
- Chinatowns in the United States
- List of Chinatowns in the United States
- Koreatowns in the NYC area:
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